One of the basic rules of Tennessee Criminal Procedure is the ten-day rule. The ten-day rule requires a preliminary hearing in criminal cases in Tennessee if the accused cannot make a bond. Under Rule 5(c)(1)(B) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure requires the magistrate to set a preliminary hearing to be held within ten days if the defendant remains in custody unless:
1. The defendant expressly waives the right to a jury trial and to a prosecution based solely on an indictment or presentment: or
2. A preliminary is not required under Rule 5(e).
The purpose of the rule is to provide an expeditious hearing for all those involved including the defendant and the alleged victim.
Currently, the ten-day rule is applied differently throughout Middle Tennessee. In Nashville Davidson County cases, the courts strictly enforce the ten-day rule. A motion is made to dismiss based on the ten-day rule and is routinely granted. In Williamson County criminal cases, the cases are held within ten days. If the case is continued, the defendant must sign a waiver of the ten-day rule. In Sumner County Tennessee criminal cases, the ten-day rule is not followed.
The big question is the lack of remedy in the rule. In the rule, there is no guidance of what should happen if the ten-day rule is violated. The other problem is the patchwork method the law is applied. if you have a question about the ten-day rule, please contact our office.